homepage logo

Cafe Society to discuss fear and how it impacts lives

By Staff | Feb 24, 2017

The Cafe Society discussion on Feb. 28 will discuss how fear increasingly plays a major role in influencing many aspects of our lives. There are varied and nuanced forms for describing or addressing this complicated and pernicious even debilitating emotion. And it has collective (social and political) ramifications as well as those we might have to deal with as individuals. Some of the complexity inherent in trying to deal with fear is the remarkable extent to which we are almost constantly in a reactive mode responding to an over-abundance of often conflicting or incomplete information.

There are of course other factors which make people more vulnerable including such things as their maturity, their sense of well-being and of course, how the fear is perceived or conveyed. Some fears are derivative or subjective in nature, the result of introspective thought and analysis, while others are direct, even intentionally manipulative. But fear is something that needs to be objectively dealt with at all levels of our social and political life. The antidote, of course is access to correct and reliable information and in this day and age the era of ‘alternative truths’ that is a major part of the problem. Where do you put your trust?

These informal discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. each Tuesday morning in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University (SU) Student Center. They are an integral part of the SU Life Long Learning Program and are intended to facilitate a dialog on current issues between the students and older members of our community. There are no fees or registration requirements.

Facilitator, Mike Austin shared, “There is a well used expression that ‘All we have to fear is fear itself.’ Unfortunately life is not all that simple. In the first place, fear is a vital self-preserving instinct (like pain) that often helps to ensure our survival in this increasingly dangerous world. But as social animals, we have learned to manipulate our fears channeling them in ways that will provide motivation to anticipate and to react to threatening situations. Sophisticated and highly competent professions have evolved to deal with most of the ‘fears’ that we have to face as individuals, but the science is not as advanced when It comes to dealing with political scenarios. Today we are, at best ‘first among equals’ when it comes to our nation as a participant in this increasingly globalized and competitive world. And even that, is increasingly a matter of what specific subject you are talking about: comparative income levels, medical care, longevity, education, individual liberties, civil rights, national security, take your pick. For a number of disparate reasons, some of our own making, the U.S. has lost, or given up (sold off) its competitive edge. The great apprehension/fear today is the growing realization that despite all of our efforts, we don’t know how to deal with terrorism. The sense of vulnerability is depressing. The political and military, even economic posture of deterrence that we orchestrated with allied nations isn’t working.”

Austin went on to say, “So the fears that are being experienced in our nation are really the symptoms of an incomplete diagnosis because we, the patient aren’t very receptive to the grim truth. We are in denial. It is easier to point fingers, blame someone else things like illegal immigrants, Syrian refugees, penny-pinching allies, Chinese dumping, ‘the one per centers’, big pharma, NAFTA, black lives matter, etc. And the ‘conservative vs. liberal’ labels are like proverbial ‘snake oil’ masking the symptoms and giving us temporary sense of euphoria followed by a horrendous hangover. We are too prone to enter into discussions or debate without knowing or trying to understand the source or accuracy of the entering arguments. We are in too much of a hurry — too impatient to take the time to do our homework and are often confused by the vast array of highly opinionated information shoved under our nose. ‘Going viral’ an expression we hear much too often these days is another case in point, almost as if there is some legitimacy in its spontaneity. Kind of like the ‘ten second’ rule when you drop your ice cream cone in the dirt. If the U.S. is going to remain on top of the heap, we are going to have to learn to live with fear turn it into a catalyst and get on with being what we are. A place you might want to take your family to in order to live a better life. Don’t be afraid. Come join in our discussion.”